In my part of the world we say you are a fool if your passion for a pursuit overcomes all practical sense. I am a stitching fool, and I stitch foolishness.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Never Mind

 Not much stitching has happened since my last post. I've been stocking the bookshelves in my stash room, and I've started unpacking the stash and stowing it in various cabinets and on various shelves.

As I was packing up my needlework books and projects for the Big Move, I said to myself that I have enough. I have more than enough. I never need to add another project or book to my already overflowing stash. I was going to just stop adding to it. I've repeated that as I've started unpacking it all.

I lied.

The Crewel Work Company sponsors a lovely needlework event, one that I would love to attend. Meanwhile, occasionally, they have additional kits from previous events which they sell after the event. This was one of them--they only had twelve of them, and I was able to snag one. It arrived this morning. 

Then Mary Corbett had a sale on books. I've been looking at these two publications from Inspirations for awhile, but talked myself out of them every time I was tempted. But Mary offered them at a discount, and I wouldn't have to pay for shipping from Australia, so I succumbed.

So, am I diving into new projects?

Nope, because as I've unpacked things, I keep finding project bags which have completely embroidered pretties that haven't been turned into anything, and class projects that I've started in the last couple of years that I'd like to have stitched, and some treasures that I forgot I had (like three Merry Cox kits that have never been touched). 

I have filled two baskets with things I want/need to work on, and I'm going to see what I can get done between now and the end of the year.

Of course, I know of several new things that are going to be offered in the fairly near future, and I've signed up for seven (seven!!!) new classes in September and October.

I have two obsessions: stitching needlework projects and collecting needlework projects. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Highs and Lows

 I've had a couple of stitching successes in the last few days--and a couple of stitching flubs as well. Nothing out of the ordinary, actually, given the way I stitch.

A major high--a finish!

Bird 'N Berry Box
Barbara Jackson

I believe I need to trim the leaves on the wee, tiny berry some more--they are kind of overwhelming--and the needle book will never be opened. I needed to do fractions to figure out the size of the fabric to use for the lining. Apparently I still have problems adding fractions, because the lining is a little smaller than the optimal size. I made it work, but I am less than thrilled. I am, however, thrilled with the box top. I got it situated, attached, and avoided having globs of glue showing.

Assorted Zoom meetings have enabled me to finish the grassy hills under the tree, and to start the tree trunk on my crewel project. I'm still very happy with the way this is looking--no flubs here!

Eternal Flame has had its moments, too.

I stitched the two diamond motifs on the huswif part--although I had to frog one and restitch it because it was a thread too high. To take a break from the flame pattern, I stitched one of the pocket pieces for the inside.  And after stitching the whole thing and admiring it greatly, I realized that I had apparently misunderstood the placement directions on the piece of linen. I don't have enough to fold up to form a self-lining. After ranting and raving and employing foul language, I decided to sleep on it--and figured out a work-around in the middle of the night. All is now good. So far.

However, I am still fighting with a stitch on my stumpwork sampler from the deep dive online class. I am trying to work Ceylon stitch. I have successfully worked Ceylon stitch in the past. More than once have I successfully worked Ceylon stitch. I have ripped out everything I've done three times on this piece.

I think I'm working too tightly. Before, I used metal threads, which have body and stiffness and can hold the shape, and wool, which is thicker than the thread I'm using for the sample. I think the thickness of the wool thread helps hold the shape. I'm working with double strands of cotton floss on this piece, and the floss is not holding the shape on its own. 

I just have to turn into a loose stitcher.

Or use lots of straight pins to hold each loop in its place until I get the next row done.

And remember to breathe.


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Flaming Out

The first flame on the Eternal Flame Huswif is finished, so here's a big Ta-Da!

 There are a couple of really thick linen threads in two different places along the left side of the flame. Under magnification, they really glare at me. They also seem to be glaring at me from this picture.

I could thread up a sharp needle and cover them with thread in colors corresponding to the stitches on either side to try to camouflage them.

Or I could describe them as an interesting design feature and leave them alone.

This may sit across the room from me for a day or so. If it can't be seen from the back of a galloping horse . . .

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

We have wings!

 My little worker bee has her wings!

It's a really good thing that I have never aspired to becoming a professional embroiderer or to working in a fashion atelier or even being an RSN graduate.

I am too slow.


Those wings took me almost 6 hours to accomplish.

You'd think, as much stitching as I have done over the past 60-plus years, I would have worked on silk organza before. Nope, or I might have figured out a way to transfer the outline of the wings in a manner that would enable me to see it. That was the first problem. Then I had to overcast the wire that holds the shape. Even with good light and magnification, that was a slow and painstaking process, followed by working buttonhole over the overcasting. Again, slow and painstaking--and that was before I had to cut the wings out. I'm not sure I breathed while I was cutting and trimming.

I'm not even going to discuss mounting the wings, other than mentioning I had to use a sharp awl and insert wires. If I observed that some DNA may have been left on the back of the work, it would not be a surprise to long-time readers.

It is all worth it, though. She is a cute little bee, and, even better, she doesn't sting!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Figured it out! Or a trip down memory lane . . .

 Yesterday I was trying to decide what I could do during Zoom meetings and stitch-ins that required very few brain cells to do while chatting or listening to programs or lectures.

I do not know why I even had to think about it. There is always the very first serious needlework technique I attempted, after, of course, stamped dish towels when I was really young.

Crewel embroidery.

I know there are a lot of people who refer to it as "cruel" embroidery, but when I was young, it was normal to work on crewel pieces. Counted thread techniques hadn't taken hold yet. Goldwork was something you saw--maybe--on ecclesiastical pieces. Whitework was found in pockets where the stitchers' foremothers had brought the techniques here. Quite frankly, I do not believe that EGA had been established yet when I was a mere child, so there really wasn't an organization that explored various forms of needlework.

There were a lot of yarn shops and department stores that also carried needlework, though. Basically, you had crewel embroidery or needlepoint, and a lot of needlepoint that I remember consisted of filling in the backgrounds of pieces that had the designs already worked in the center (this is why you may have inherited sets of dining room chairs with sort of drab needlepoint seat covers).

I went for crewel. And, like anything you learn when you're very young, it was easy to learn, and the stitches have actually become automatic to execute. 

I got away from it when all these other techniques became attractive, and different kinds of threads because available. However, I have quite a stash of classic crewel pieces accumulated over the years.

So, I started a crewel piece last night:

Wool is an amazingly forgiving fiber. It lofts up and fills in and blends quite beautifully. And it goes really fast! I mean, REALLY  fast!

If I ever get into a competition as to who can do the most projects in a year, I might do nothing but crewel. Actually, I have a friend who has a stash of crewel pieces that she is saving for her old age, so that when she can't see high counts of linen, she can still stitch. (I'm not sure when old age is going to hit her--she's 80 now and still going strong.)

Anyway, if you happen to be in a stitch-in or Zoom meeting with me, this is what you'll likely see.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

going buggy

 I seem to be fascinated by bugs at the moment.

My little bee needs her wings, but the turkey work is finished and clipped. I see a few spots that I could trim a little more, but there comes a point at which you can get carried away. I do not need or want a bald bee, so I think I'm going to leave her alone. Other than stitching her gauzy wings, of course.

My caterpillar now has its grass completed. I have to do some outlining--including a section done with peacock feathers!!!!--and then this section of the project will be done.

However, lest you think I've gone completely bug-nutz, I did fix my flame stitch section and started filling it in.

I love the brocade effect the stitches give this bargello pattern, but I've found I do need to watch the chart to make sure I'm doing it correctly.

Which leads me to this dilemma . . . I have several Zoom things coming up, and none of the things in my current workbasket lend themselves to stitching and talking, not even the bargello pattern. 

I believe this gives me permission to start something else.

Like I need permission to start another project!

Monday, August 14, 2023

A BB in a Boxcar

 After finishing the Little Pilgrim Hornbook, I was planning to put more things together. Actually, I had visions of getting to the bottom of one of the finishing baskets, which somehow rose to the top of the stash boxes.

What didn't rise with it was the box with my fiberfill and batting.

I need fiberfill and batting to complete most of the projects in the finishing basket. I have a practically full bag of fiberfill, and I bought a queen-size batting years ago so that it would take care of all my batting needs for the rest of my life. So, I don't want to buy more.

When I couldn't find the box, I started bouncing from one thing to another, like a BB in a boxcar.

I started working on the first of the projects for the online stumpwork class I was taking when the Big Move loomed over me.

The berries are made by wrapping wee tiny wooden beads with either ribbon or a single strand of embroidery floss. This was fiddly, but sort of satisfying in a Zen kind of way.

The head and legs for the bee weren't a problem, just a little bit of surface stitching with a strand of floss.

Then there is the body.

The cursed body.

It's done in turkey work--so you make loops of thread on the surface and later on, when you've filled the area with loops, you cut them open and then shape the area. It's supposed to give you a very fuzzy surface that looks like fur. 

I do not enjoy this stitch.

Actually, I hate it.

It's great if you want to give a squirrel a big, fuzzy, fluffy tail, or adorn Santa's coat with fir. You may notice that I have yet to stitch either a squirrel with a big, fuzzy, fluffy tail or a Santa's coat with fur. 

I did as much as I could stand, then moved on to something else.

I have several projects from workshops I've done in the last year or so, and I pulled out the Flame Stitch Huswif that I took from Jackie at Salty Yarns last year.

This is as far as I got with that:

There was a minor counting error in the original chart. I had forgotten about that. When did I remember? After I had stitched this much, of course, Luckily, I was able to find the email with the pdf for the correction. I just haven't gotten up the energy to rip out and restitch.

So, then I moved on to one of Amy Mitten's new Casket Keepsakes. I was working on the ground for the caterpillar  earlier this year when I realized my brain, addled by the problems I was having with my thyroid at the time, could not handle the chart.

Apparently my brain is still addled, so I figured out a way to sort of cheat at the changes in the colors of the ground, and almost got it stitched before I went to bed last night.

So, what do I do today?

Not a clue. I may work on one of these, or I may look for the fiberfill/batting box, or I may grab something else.

Or maybe I'll take a nap.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Happy World Cross Stitch Day!

 To celebrate, I mounted the Little Pilgrim Hornbook piece. I have a finish!

And I have unpacked about a dozen boxes of my needlework books and put them on the shelves in my stash room. There are many more to go. Actually, I think I have more books than I have shelves. This may be a problem.

I believe I will do a Scarlett, and think about that some other day.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Happy Day!

There are times when it's good to stitch a project that can be done in a couple of days.

Little Pilgrim Hornbook
Barbara Jackson/Tristan Brooks
Shining Needle Society online class


Sunday, August 6, 2023

Letters and more letters

So I worked on Barbara Jackson's Littlest Pilgrim Hornbook yesterday.

And the first three major bands are almost all letters. Which I do not enjoy stitching. And then I made it harder for myself.

No, I didn't work them reversibly, but I did try to avoid carrying the thread across the linen in the back. The darkest blue is very dark, and I knew it would show through when the piece is mounted on the hornbook. This meant a lot of pin stitches to start each letter, and a lot of foul language when the pin stitches pulled loose--so I grabbed a sharp needle--which resulted in more foul language when I stabbed myself. Anyway the sharp needle did the trick, no more stitches pulled loose, and now I can move on to a fun band with very few letters.

Barbara Rakosnik of Periwinkle Promises designed a sampler that said "I Already Know My Alphabet" in place of the alphabet. This is one of the few designs of hers that I somehow missed adding to the stash, but I have often thought of it. Major unicorn sampler . . .like everything else, if I'm meant to have it, it will come my way.

Having unpacked 21 boxes of books--no exaggeration, even though they were not huge boxes, they were still heavy--I believe I am going to spend the rest of the day stitching. And I believe I will work on Littlest Pilgrim again.

I'm halfway! If Dearly Beloved can be talked into cooking dinner tonight, I may have another piece ready to assemble tomorrow.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Roses and Leaves

I really thought I could get the whole button pouch that goes with Gardenesque stitched in a day.  I really did. So I took a day away from unpacking boxes and stitched all day.

It was wonderful.

But I didn't get the whole thing stitched.

The rosebuds did me in.

As usual, everything takes longer than I think it should. The rosebuds, which I have stitched so many times on this project that I no longer have to look at the chart, took longer than all the counting involved in the outline.

But it's done now.

Now I just have to locate the sewing box that everything fits into, and I can start the finishing process. It should be in one of three places. I can get to two of them--the third is blocked off by more boxes. This may mean that I will be unpacking boxes to get them out of the way and won't be assembling anything today.

Anyway, last night I decided I could start a new, new project, and Barbara Jackson's Littlest Pilgrim Hornbook came out to play.

I started to write that I bet I could get a lot of this completed today if I stitched all day. 

Isn't that how I started this entry?

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Oh, so clever!

 I finished the stitching for the needlebook for Gardenesque last night.

I wondered why one rose bush was right side up and the other was upside down--then it hit me.

No matter which way you open it when it's assembled into the book, it will look like it's right side up. Clever, clever, clever!

I have only two bits of this set left to stitch, so I'm trying to avoid temptation. It's hard. It's really hard. I have a LOT of temptation floating around. I'm trying to tell myself that working on my online classwork should count as another project, but I keep thinking of it more as a learning process.

And I'm really afraid to start unpacking the stash boxes--that will only throw more temptation in my path!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Getting back to a routine . . . maybe

 We have made great strides in the unpacking of boxes. Basically, Dearly Beloved is looking for a specific book he wants to read, so he has become obsessive about unpacking the book boxes. I'm down to about three kitchen boxes.

We're not discussing the stash boxes, mainly because I set aside several with things I want to work on. We moved those bins, so I know exactly where they are, and they didn't get buried with everything else. The rest can wait.

At least for a little while.

Anyway, I decided that August 1 would be the date I would start seriously stitching again. I will continue to unpack, but it's no longer vital. We still have boxes, but now it doesn't feel like we're camping out. We also have floor space instead of paths.

Today I transferred the designs for Term Three of the two Deep Dive classes I was taking. When the term started, the deadline for the move was looming, and I had stopped stitching. Luckily the instructional parts of both classes were taped, so I can rewatch each and start working on them.

So here's the design for the stumpwork class:

And the design for the goldwork class:

I need to sew the linen to a muslin backing before I start stitching. I'm still trying to decide if I want to go full speed on one class, then work the other one, or alternate the two. I may flip a coin.

Gardenesque has not been neglected. I have part of one rose bush planted, and the forget-me-nots are blooming on the needlebook.

And now that I'm stitching again, I also plan to blog more frequently--because I'll finally have something to say!

At least, I'll have something to say about stitching. I've had plenty to say about moving, and none of it was pleasant.

If you can't say something nice, then it's better to say nothing at all.